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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Columnist: Ahadome, Edem

Nkrumah in Retrospect: A Rejoinder

By: Edem Ahadome

I read Mr. Kennedy’s article [and I have to say that] it is very inspiring and balanced. Mr. Kennedy is perhaps one of the thoughtful young UP tradition politicians that Ghana has had. His article “Nkrumah in Retrospect published on Ghanaweb is a truly wonderful piece which hits the nail on the head at so many points but, I have to say that he omitted something really important and that was the tenant and the situation of the times. They say necessity is the mother of all inventions.

Despite all Nkrumah’s Greatness he was still a man and he fell prey to the many things that afflict men. Mr. Kennedy should therefore bear in mind that at that particular point in time people like the America president and Anthony Eden of the United kingdom wanted to get rid of the man through subversion. Nkrumah became aware of this, and this made him paranoid. There had been several attempts on his life, and his personal body guard who was suppose to be protecting him almost murdered him. In my opinion Nkrumah is not a tyrant by nature but may have become one by situation.

There were forces that did not want to see Nkrumah succeed for their own personal reasons, and sadly they prevailed in the end. I will not attempt to justify the PDA and declaring himself President for life, but let us look at it in the context of the time so as to give this great man what he is due. He foresaw what was coming and he prepared Ghana which was young against the coming of subversion; one can find examples throughout history of what he did to protect himself and his nation, and it was nothing extraordinary. The Romans, one of the first republics in the world, when ever there was an army across the Rubicon suspended the senate and elected one senator to lead the nation in their time of war till the conflict was over; this was not a privilege but a duty.

During both great wars in Britain, multiparty democracy was suspended and there was a coalition government led by one party (the conservative party under Churchill in World War 2, and under prime minister Asquith in World War 1). On both counts the Germans were beaten. Lets think about this first before we judge our great Nkrumah; his nation was one that was undergoing serious subversion and even instability. He took the decision to prevent this whether right or wrong I think may be debatable, but to say it is outright wrong is simply unfair. He was overthrown in the end but look at what replaced him.

For every count of act the coup leaders accused Nkrumah of doing, they turned around and did the same thing. CPP was banned from participating in Ghana politics and any Ghanaian who displayed Nkrumah’s pictures or made statements in support of him was arrested and jailed.

China has one of the most authoritarian and dictatorial systems in the world; it is a one-party state; but they are doing just great (not saying I back these systems but you cannot argue with results). Cuba is a one party state led by a communist leader. Ghana’s health delivery system would be under stress without the service of the Cuban doctors.

It is the selfless leadership that has turned China into a economic giant, and Cuba, though under trade sanction from the US for over 40 years, has managed to educate doctors serving in Latin American nations, the island nations in the Caribbean and many African countries. Lee Kuan Yew ruled Singapore for over 40 years when Malaysia kicked it out of the federation. Lee Kuan Yew’s honesty and dedication to Singapore lifted it from a third world to a first world socio-economic status. Libya has been ruled by Muammar al-Gaddafi for the past 30 years, and it has the highest human development index in Africa. Of course, these leaders made mistakes along the way.

Just like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Nkrumah would have won every election if he had chosen to go that route. Nkrumah understood Ghanaians and cared very much for them and they in turn understood him. This was obvious given his short history in Gold Coast politics but rather great success upon his return through the invitation of the UGCC.

Nkrumah did not set out to hurt the opposition. He disliked the PDA. According to his own words, this was obvious during a private conversation in a car ride with Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia. The late Alhaji Bawumia was a great Northern Ghana politician and the father the NPP vice presidential candidate in the 2008 general election.

In a quotation of Nkrumah’s conversation in the late Alhaji Bawumia memoirs, we read this:

“Mr.Bawumia, from what I have seen from Accra to Tamale, I am convinced that the country is now settled peacefully and there is no longer security problem. As soon as I get back to Accra I am going to ensure the release of all those who are now detained under the Preventive Detention Act” (A Life in the Political History of Ghana. Accra: Ghana University Press, 2004 pg160).

According to the late Alhaji Bawumia this conversation took place in a car ride from the Police Park in Tamale to the Northern Regional Commissioner’s residence where Nkrumah stayed before continuing his trip to Kulugungu to meet with the Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) president. Whether one is a UP or CPP supporter, any moral Ghanaian or human will agree with me that the Kulungugu bomb attempt was the lowest act by the opposition. The attempted assassination of Nkrumah in Kulungugu put foreign dignitaries in a harmful way, killed an innocent young girl, and maimed many people.

Yes, Nkrumah was not a perfect person; he made mistakes just like any human being would do in their life time. One thing that even his detractors would agree is that he did not profit from his mistakes. Nkrumah wanted power in order to make Ghana a developed nation for Ghanaians and Africans. It is not the system! It is the leaders and the decisions they take, and the examples they set. I will repeat this now you cannot argue with results, which government, democratic or not, has achieved what Nkrumah did for Ghana. As a Ghanaian I am yet to witness a Ghanaian leader who has demonstrated sacrificial and selfless leadership. These are the qualities that made Nkrumah a great leader. Not even his family mattered to him compared to how he felt about Ghana. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.